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Caregivers: are they caring for themselves?

"When this initially happened to us, I was consumed," Jamie Alesch recalls.

Alesch is referring to a stroke that her husband, Corey, suffered a few years ago.

We recently featured how Stroke Camp was beneficial for her as a caregiver.

But what about other caregivers out there?

"A lot of caregivers are good about taking care of others, and sometimes they don't realize that they need to take care of themselves, too," says Faith Fisher, Master of Social Work at Mercy Medical Center.

That is where caregiver burnout becomes an issue.

Caregivers constantly put others before themselves and tend to the needs of those around them. Therefore, their own health sometimes gets pushed under the rug.

"It's so important because it affects their daily life. It also affects their physical health," says Nicole Shea, Stroke Program Coordinator at Mercy Medical Center. If you get overwhelmed and bogged down and stressed out, it can lead to things like strokes and heart attacks and other physical ailments. And you'll get sick quicker with pneumonias and those kind of things."

There are services caregivers can use, like respite programs, to alleviate that stress and pressure. Professionals recommend caregivers take time out of the day and set it aside for themselves. It may be hard for caregivers to accept this, but it is necessary for their own health.

"To any caregiver out there, it is an task that we didn't sign up for, but unfortunately it happens," Alesch says. "And they need to keep themselves refreshed and they need to find time for themselves so that they can be the best they can possibly be for their loved one and for their families."

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